You’ve heart Enzo’s Hippocratic Oath of comedy before – “First, be funny”. For all the others things we like our comedies to be able to do, they don’t really amount to much if they aren’t funny. Fortunately, Jitsu wa Watashi wa is funny – in fact, it’s very funny indeed. It does a lot of those other things well, but in terms of sheer ratio of LPMs (laughs-per-minute) it might just be the top series of the Summer.
Jitsu wa… actually makes a very nice companion piece with Joukamachi no Dandelion, though as comedies go they could hardly be more different tonally. What both series share is heart – fundamentally both of them are really quite sweet, though the comedy in both can certainly take on an edge. There’s a bit of Majimoji Rurumo in this show too, as I said last week – and I can hardly imagine a sweeter romantic comedy than that one.
At heart, what I think Jitsu wa… wa is a classic screwball comedy dressed up in anime clothing. Of course that’s what many of the great anime comedies of the 80’s and 90’s were, which is why this one feels (and looks like, too) one of those anime comedies. Vampires, witches, aliens, robots, affable but overmatched protagonists – these were the staples of the old-school anime romantic farce. All we need is a catgirl and I’d swear an affidavit that this was 1995.
At the heart of the successful screwball comedy are usually loveable idiots, and Jitsu wa Watashi wa is flush with them. Last week focused on Asahi and Youko, but gave us a late hint that Iinchou Aizawa Nagisa (Minase Inori) was going to play a major role soon. And boy, did she ever. I haven’t been a fan of Minase’s work in the past, but she brings a great bombast and lunacy to Nagisa, who’s as bombastic and lunatic a character as you’re going to see.
There’s history between Nagisa and Asahi as it turns out – he had a crush on her and she shot him down. But now she’s upset that he’s turned his attentions to another girl, and even confronts him to find out if his feelings for her were genuine (they were, and she’s mortified that she even asked). Nice romcom potential, but oh, by the way – Nagisa is also an alien. We find that out when she walks in on Asahi and Youko (it should also be pointed out that this scene too was pretty great, especially when Youko is horrified that Asahi assumes she sucks blood for lunch, because in vampire-lingo he’s just called her a slut), who’s just released her inner vamp after biting into cream puffs laced with habaneros and tabasco (and something else).
This is a hilarious moment because Asahi and Youko are so mortified that they don’t seem to notice Nagisa has a bolt sticking out of her head. Her true nature is revealed when a porthole on Iinchou’s head opens and a mini-Iinchou (with a tentacle) pops out. After that things just go off the hook, in a delightful way. Mistaken identity, wordplay, chase scenes – we get them pretty much all simultaneously. Nagisa’s solution is to “erase” Asahi’s memory – with a hammer, because she’s read in manga that works. And if it’s discovered that she’s been derelict in her observation mission on Earth, she’ll be publicly spanked. Eventually Asahi actually agrees to this nonsense, for Youko’s benefit – but fortunately Youko stops it in the nick of time, not wanting Asahi to forget.
This is a helluva setup we have here, with Youko thinking Asahi is after Nagisa, Nagisa still harboring feelings for Asahi, and Asahi forced to try and keep two huge secrets with the world’s worst poker face (and there’s a vampire and alien, by the way). And there’s more madness to come – the nutjob reporter Akemi Mikan (Ueda Reina, who played five different characters in Tokyo Ghoul) has planted a recording device in one of the cream puff depth charges, and there are hints she may be sweet on Asahi herself. And going by the ED there’s another crazy girl still to join the party, who will no doubt have an even crazier secret to unload on poor Asahi. Sign me up – this is a runaway train headed back in time, and I’m enjoying the hell out of the ride.